So you want to start your own self-hosted blog, but you have next to no clue how to get started, or even what that means. A quick Google search will reveal countless how-to articles, yet a lot of them are now outdated and/or complicated.
It is only getting easier and cheaper to set up your own self-hosted WordPress website, with your own unique domain, in order to showcase your hobbies, your cooking skills, or your travel photos & stories, or anything really.
In this article I aim to show you how to set up and start a simple self-hosted WordPress blog. What I can not show you is “how to get rich quick while travelling the world” as I’m still trying to figure out how to do that, if ever.
Self-hosted basically means you have your own domain with no weebly.com or wordpress.com or blogspot.com in your website name. Self-hosting also costs a little to get started, but it also allows you to do practically what you want with your site. You have almost complete freedom to use any theme or plugin.
I have not counted the steps needed to start a self-hosted WordPress website, there are quite a few more than 6, 3, 12 etc. But they are very quick steps, so read on to discover how to set up your new self-hosted WordPress website on a lazy Sunday afternoon while sipping Pina Colada by your pool and dreaming of the places you plan to go to and write about…..
How to start your own self-hosted WordPress blog
Choose a domain name
This is the 1st and most important step, at least try asking someone to mail you something or come for a visit without giving them your address. Your domain name also needs to say something about you and your website. While possible, it is also something that is difficult and complicated to change once your site has been up and running for a while, so choose wisely.
Now what comes after your domain is not really important. Some say it is, some say it isn’t, although I will suggest try for a .com first, then maybe .net
But shop around here, or any domain registrar of your choice as more and more very cool TLD’s are becoming available. For example, if you are a Cape Town based fashion blogger, you could have something like ‘myhighfashion.capetown’ A lot of other cities around the world are doing the same thing.
Incidentally, ‘.tv’ is actually from the small South Pacific island of Tuvalu, but anyone can register a domain with it. This is especially useful if you are in the media/television business.
For some epic domain name fails and more tips & tricks on what to consider when choosing a domain name, go here: Worst Domain Names
Next step is web hosting.
Every website needs somewhere to live, a physical computer, a host.
Yes, we have the internet and hosting providers, right here in South Africa. No, we do not use donkeys to go to the grocery store, in the big cities.
Now if you are a South African based blogger looking for an easy cost effective way of getting your self-hosted site up and online, and you don’t want to worry about exchange rates, then look no further than Webafrica.
But even if you are on the other side of the world, hosting in South Africa is still an excellent idea due to favourable exchange rates with major world currencies. South Africa is also right in the middle of major undersea internet cable routes between Europe, Asia and North America. There is excellent international connectivity with WACS, one of many such cables.
Webafrica will be able to help you through the finer details of exactly which hosting plan is right for you and with setting up your new account and installing WordPress. So don’t hesitate to contact them by phone, chat, or email.
What is WordPress?
WordPress is free open source software, or rather a free CMS (Content Management System) that assembles and then serves or displays to the world the content that you upload to your website in almost any way you want it to.
Then there are the 1000’s of free themes and plugins in the wordpress.org repository that will add seemingly infinite functionality to your site. It is by far the most used software of its kind, running about 23% of the worlds top 10 million websites as of January 2015.
Once you have installed and logged into WordPress you will need to choose a theme, and there are 1000’s of great free themes out there. However, if you would like that much more flexibility to customise your website even more, you can purchase all of the 87 Elegant premium themes for the price of one. We use Divi at The Travelling Chilli.
Should you click on any Elegant or Webafrica link, and you actually sign up and pay for any of their services, we will receive a commission, at no extra charge to you. This helps us to keep The Travelling Chilli going, and we will love you forever and buy you beer, coffee, tea or lunch/dinner if we ever meet in person.
Do I need HTTPS?
Good question. Lets put it this way, it will not hurt your site in any way if you do have it, but it might hurt if you don’t.
Perhaps you’ve heard about the Google mandate / legislation / decree that sites with HTTPS will now be ranked higher than other sites on HTTP with similar content, and it doesn’t matter if they don’t have an online store or capture sensitive information. Google is basically campaigning for HTTPS everywhere. Browsers are now warning visitors that a site is not secure and that it might be dangerous even if it is just a small basic fashion blog that does not request sensitive user info. This could chase potential visitors away.
With that said, it would seem that when the mighty Google says jump, we do not ask why, but how high?
Webafrica can install an SSL certificate for a nominal extra charge. It is also highly recommended that you have SSL installed when you start your site, as switching to HTTPS at a later stage can be complicated.
I would also keep up with your own continued research when it comes to HTTPS and other Google ‘rules’ as I can’t update this article as fast as Google keeps changing them.
Plugins that I highly recommend to start a WordPress blog with are:
Akismet. This is actually already included in your WordPress installation, you just need to activate it. It does an excellent job of preventing comment spam, for free. Donations are most welcome.
Jetpack. I think this is the most used WordPress plugin. Have a look at it and I’m sure you will find more than one usefull feature.
UpdraftPlus. This I cannot stress enough….backup, backup, backup your site, after you have put content on it, even though Webafrica also makes backups. This plugin is tried and tested by yours truly. It protected my site from none other than…..myself, after I messed with core code. It was also much quicker restoring from my own backup. And a little extra backup redundancy never hurt anyone.
Wordfence Security. Unfortunately there are a lot of bad people out there who will want to hack your site, and believe me, they will try. No site in the world is immune from such things, sadly.
Yoast SEO. A very powerful and useful ‘must have’ plugin.
All the above plugins, and any other plugin obtained from the WordPress plugin repository will have instructions on how to customise and set them up to suit your needs
Thats about it really. At least the set up process for your new self hosted blog. The only thing that now limits you is your imagination! There is also a huge international community of people out there just waiting to help you, including me, should you need it. For more info on WordPress and how to use it, go to: www.wordpress.org Also be sure to download any themes and plugins only from there, or from within your WordPress installation, or from sources you are sure you can trust like Elegant Themes.
If you have any questions or would like any clarity on the things I have just said, please drop a comment.
Inspired? Pin this to your pinterest boards: